Archive for September, 2011

09/30/2011

Immigration Affects Jobs and SS Funding

Although the U.S. Constitution expressly delegates to the national government the power to legislate over Naturalization, states such as Arizona and Alabama, have been writing their own laws to deal with immigrants, which are being challenged in the federal courts.

On Sept. 28, 2011, a federal judge in Alabama upheld part of a state immigration statute that checks the status of public school students, but threw out other parts, since a state may not override the federal government on naturalization topics.

The judge has not yet ruled on whether Alabama can make it unlawful for an illegal alien to: 1) solicit work; 2) attend public colleges; or 3) prove legality by any means other than federal verification. She has yet to decide on whether anyone may: 1) transport or harbor illegal immigrants; or 2) stop on a road to hire temporary workers. She has yet not addressed whether businesses may: 1) hire illegal immigrants in place of legal workers; or 2) deduct their wages from corporate tax returns.

In any event, from the issues raised, it is clear lawmakers in Alabama are opposed to illegal immigration. A more interesting question however is whether they would support an increase in legal immigration, since the flow of foreign workers to America profoundly affects our economy, one way or the other.

On the one hand, increasing barriers to illegal and legal immigration shrinks the work force, and reduces unemployment. In the roaring 1920s, the door on immigration was slammed shut, and almost any American who wanted a job, was able to get one.

On the other hand, when the Social Security System began in 1935, most families had seven children paying in for every recipient taking money out. Since Americans now have only one or two children, the number of above-board workers paying taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund must be increased, by welcoming more legal immigrants in our work force.

We have a choice. Block all illegal immigration, and also refuse to increase legal immigration, hoping this will put Americans back to work, without contracting the economy; or we can increase legal immigration, expand the economy, and shore up the future of Social Security. There is no neutral position, for no matter which path we take, there are economic consequences.

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09/29/2011

Election Off By 14,000 Votes Is Troubling

Although the failure of a election clerk to report 14,000 votes during the initial tabulation of the ballots for a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race was likely caused by loading a blank template into a reporting database, instead of the one that actually contained the votes, it is nevertheless very troubling, and it should give us pause to ask if many more checks and balances are needed to insure the reliability of modern computerized elections.

The Government Accountability Board was correct as they found: “Your failure to post election returns…has significantly undermined public confidence in the conduct of elections in Wisconsin and Waukesha County.” That is an understatement.

While right-wingers may try to solve voter fraud problems that do not exist, or address harmless errors that at best involve only a handful of ballots which would not swing the outcome of an election, our focus should instead be on the sort of template problem reported by the Wisconsin State Journal on Sept. 21, 2011, that led to the 14,000 vote controversy. Such a large number of votes can and would actually change election results.

The first step is for everyone to agree that no system is infallible. Never let a voting machine salesperson ever get away with the pitch that their system was tested over and over and is incapable of error. Systems can and do fail. Let’s agree nothing is fail safe.

Secondly, checks and cross-checks must be implemented. Prior election turnouts in terms of number and percentage should be matched against current returns. Any large deviation from the norm should raise flags and should trigger further checking.

The possibility of a 14,000 vote computer error is far more troubling than some college kid who forgot to bring his photo ID to the polling place. Let’s focus on the things that really matter.

09/27/2011

Republican Debate Orlando (9-22-11)

The Republicans had another debate on Sep. 22, 2011 in Orlando.

FOREIGN POLICY: After 10 years of war, Huntsman said it is time to bring troops home and to project America’s goodness. He said only Afghanistan can save Afghanistan, and only Pakistan can save Pakistan. Romney believes it is wrong to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine. He thought it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear power. Santorum, also pandered to the Israeli Lobby, saying he would not remove any troops from the Iraqi region, as he wants to fight to win, and would stay until we succeed. He wants better relations with Pakistan to ensure nuclear weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. Perry would use India as an ally to deal with Pakistan. Gingrich predicted Pakistan will become more dangerous in near future. He would eliminate government to government foreign aid, and would deny money to any state that does not vote with the U.S. in the UN. Cain was against the Palestinians, but did not explain why. He said if you mess with Israel, you mess with the U.S. While Johnson would promote trade by allowing direct flights to Cuba, Bachmann opposes them, because she thinks Cuba is still a state sponsor of terror.

GAYS IN MILITARY: Santorum would reinstitute don’t ask don’t tell in the military, saying they should keep it to themselves, and sexual activity has no place in the service.

JOBS: Ron Paul said jobs are created by people, not governments. Santorum’s job solution is to abolish public sector unions. Perry would create jobs through energy independence and the repeal of regulations. Huntsman said the 15 million unemployed need tax, regulatory, and energy reforms. Bachmann thought employers are not hiring because of Obamacare. Johnson neighbors’ two dogs created more shovel-ready jobs than Obama. Cain said we just need leadership. Romney, a conservative businessman, quipped: to create jobs, you have to have had one. Gingrich said the economy will turn around when Obama loses. He would require unemployment recipients to go through state training programs to qualify for benefits, saying it is wrong to give money for nothing.

U.S. BUDGET & TAXES: Huntsman said this is the worst time to raise taxes, and would instead eliminate corporate welfare and phase out loopholes. Johnson would stop spending $10 for every $6 we raise, and would balance the budget. He would cut 43% of the federal budget, including 43% of military spending. Romney, clearly out of touch, thought he would help the Middle Class by eliminating taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains. The unrealistic Bachmann first said we should get to keep every dollar we earn, but later said money is needed to run the government. The untested Cain would throw out the entire tax code, including employer matching Social Security, and would create a 9-9-9 plan, including a new regressive 9% federal sales tax, a 9% corporate tax, and flat 9% income tax.

ENERGY: Huntsman wants to develop natural gas, because we cannot use wind or sun right now. Cain claimed the EPA is regulating dust and so he would eliminate the agency.

IMMIGRATION: Perry spent more time on immigration than anyone, he said, as Texas has a 1,200 mile border. He wants to stop illegal immigration, but said a 1,200 mile wall is not going to work. He joined the AZ lawsuit, but gave in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Fellow Texan Ron Paul would give illegal aliens nothing. Santorum said Perry is soft on immigration, and illegals should be treated like any other out-of-state person. Romney criticized Perry for giving in-state tuition to illegals, saying it draws them into the country. He would crack down on employers who hire illegals. Gingrich wants secure borders, English language education, and a modernization of visas. He wants to know what employers object to regarding the verification of Social Security numbers.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney said Perry does not want Social Security to be federal. Romney would make the current system sound. Cain wants to fix SS by using the Chilean model.

HEALTH CARE: Romney adopted the Mass. health care mandate to deal with the 8% in his state who were uninsured. He said the federal law is not the same, and wants states to have waivers. Huntsman said the health care approach is wrong, since we need affordable health insurance to reduce the number of uninsured. He would let the states experiment. Perry was asked why 25% are uninsured in Texas and it ranked 49th in Medicaid. Each state, Perry said, should deliver their own health care. He disagreed with President Bush for establishing Medicare Part D and called Romney’s state plan the same as Obama’s. Bachmann attacked Perry for surrendering parental rights to the drug companies and mandating injections to 12-year-olds. Cain thinks he survived cancer, because he was not on a bureaucrat timetable.

CHURCH & STATE: Bachmann correctly said Jefferson valued religious liberty and we should not have a state or national church. This does not mean we are not people of faith. She said we should be able to exercise our faith, but failed to say who was denying it.

STATES RIGHTS: Ron Paul said the federal government has no authority to run schools, the economy, or our personal lives, and he would veto all bills that violate the 10th Amendment.

EDUCATION: Ron Paul wants the feds out of education, saying nobody likes No Child Left Behind. Johnson said 11% of federal spending goes to education with strings attached, which he would cut. Huntsman thinks early childhood literacy is important, but wants education local, with no unfunded mandates. Bachmann and Cain want local control, and would get the Feds out. Perry supports school choice, a local issue. Romney would stand up to teacher unions, another local issue. Gingrich would add Pell grants for K-12, but would get rid of federal regulations.

ABORTION: Ron Paul said abortion is a state, not a national issue. He asked how they could police the day-after pill, since such laws are not going to solve the problem.

TORT REFORM: Perry raised another state issue by warning trial lawyers not to file frivolous lawsuits in his state.

VICE PRESIDENT: When asked who on stage would be their Vice-President, Romney was typically vague, saying anyone could serve. Bachmann wanted a strong constitutional conservative. Gingrich would pick someone capable. Ron Paul would choose once he reaches the top tier. Johnson would pick Ron Paul due to monetary issues. Huntsman surprised reasonable people by picking Cain, who has no government experience. Perry wants a cross between Cain and Gingrich. Cain would pick Romney or Gingrich. Santorum would choose Gingrich.

09/26/2011

Palestine: Abbas Seeks Statehood In UN

Although the UN should grant the Palestinian application for statehood, submitted by President Abbas on Sep. 23, 2011, it will most certainly be vetoed in the Security Council by the U.S., because this is what the Israeli Lobby wants.

Abbas nevertheless made a plea to the UN, by reminding the world the Palestinians have been the victims of injustice since 1948. Although the Palestinians want a comprehensive peace, the last round of negotiations in 2010 broke down within weeks, because Israel disregards UN Resolutions, rejects international law, and continues to settle in parts of occupied Palestine.

Abbas reminded the UN that the late Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed a statement of principle with Israel, in Oslo and at the White House in 1993, but after 18 years, no Palestinian State has yet been created, despite an international consensus for a two-state solution.

Abbas said the absence of an agreement is because Israel systematically confiscates land and constructs settlements along the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while refusing to allow the Palestinians to build. Israel erected an annexation Wall through the West Bank, which separates Palestinian communities. They made Gaza a virtual prison, by imposing a blockade around it. They engaged in ethnic cleansing, by deporting Palestine’s elected representatives, and have allowed Jewish settlers to engage in acts of violence against Arabs without consequence.

It has been difficult for the Palestinians, said Abbas, who was personally forced from his home in 1948, with just the cloths on his back, and the things he could carry. Palestinians eventually realized they could never obtain an absolute justice regarding the historical injustice imposed upon them. They instead adopted a path to relative justice. They made major concessions by agreeing to compromise for only 22% of historical Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to negotiate with Israel, but it is now futile. After 63 years of suffering, Abbas said, enough is enough, and business as usual cannot continue. Although Abbas said peaceful resistance will continue, as long as the occupation remains, the Palestinians are willing to return to the table, if Israel stops creating new settlements in Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians are entitled to an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as their capital. They want a release all political prisoners. They want refugees dealt with in accordance with UN Res 194. In exchange, they will renounce violence and reject terrorism in all forms, including state terrorism, and they will agree not to delegitimize Israel.

Abbas asked the UN: Are you going to permit the world’s last occupation to go on forever? Are you going to allow Israel to remain above the law, and let them continue to reject UN Resolutions, and the rulings of the International Court of Justice?

Abbas said it is time for the Palestinian Spring and for the Palestinians to gain independence. Accordingly, Abbas exercised the right of the Palestinian to self-determination and submitted an application for full membership to the Assembly, which he asked the UN to grant immediately, based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

09/23/2011

Palestinian Statehood In United Nations

The UN currently has 194 independent member states. Although the Palestinian Territory is not now an independent sovereign, the United Nations has the power to recognize them, and to make them a UN member. Palestine’s request for statehood would give them rights, and the ability to make claims in international courts. It would allow them to enter into treaties with other countries, and would make them subject to international obligations.

The criteria for statehood were set forth in the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States (1933). A state must have: 1) a permanent population; 2) a defined territory; 3) a government; and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with others.

As to population, although Antarctica has temporary visitors, it has no permanent population, and is the best example of a land that cannot become a state. The Vatican cannot become a state, since no one was born there, and it has no permanent residents. Western Sahara, with roving nomads, also fails in this regard.

Since Palestine has had a permanent population for over a thousand years, it clearly meets the first criteria for statehood.

A state must have a defined territory. Not all places with defined territories are independent states. Taiwan is a well-defined island that acts like a free state, but it is part of China. French-speaking Quebec has borders, but it is a Canadian province.

In the case of Palestine, their territories include at least the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Other lands occupied since 1967 may also be claimed. Although the boundaries with Israel are now disputed, that is no bar to statehood, and the second test is met.

A state must have a government, as every nation must speak with one voice. If Somalia had to re-apply for statehood today, they would have a problem, because they are governed by warlords, and not by a central government.

Palestine has long had elected governmental bodies in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite Israel’s disapproval of the freely-elected Hamas Party in Gaza, Palestine satisfies the third element.

A state must have the capacity to enter into relations with other nations. Palestine certainly has the ability to do this, and it therefore meets the fourth element of statehood.

The people of the occupied Palestinian territories have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter and the United Nations should proceed to recognize a Palestinian State.

09/22/2011

Palestine: Shot Down By Israeli Lobby

Although an independent Palestinian State should be recognized, it is not going to happen, because the U.S. has veto power in the United Nations, and the Israeli Lobby controls American foreign policy, as outlined in the book: The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), by John Mearsheimer and Stephan Walt.

Palestine, 95% Arab in 1893, had been occupied by Palestinians for 1,300 continuous years. After WWI, European Jews started migrating to Palestine, and eventually created a state by removing Palestinians. The UN partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas in 1947, triggering a Civil War (1947-48), followed by an Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). Jewish forces drove 700,000 Palestinians out at that time, and barred them from returning.

Under President Eisenhower, U.S. foreign policy took a middle course in the 1950s, as Israeli requests to buy military equipment were denied. In the Suez War (1956), Israel was persuaded to return to their borders, when the U.S. threatened to cut off aid.

A major shift in U.S. foreign policy occurred after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when the U.S. first started favoring Israel. In 1967, another 100,000 to 250,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, as Israel started occupying the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. 3.8 million Palestinians fell under Israeli rule. Although the Israeli Army withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it became a virtual prison, as the Jewish state controls their air, sea, and land access.

Israel came under worldwide criticism for their brutal behavior in the occupied territories. Although Congress legally barred Israel from using U.S. aid to build settlements, new roads and villages were constructed in Palestine, as Israel erected a Wall through it.

The issue now is whether Israel and the U.S. will finally recognize a Palestinian State, along the pre-1967 borders? The short answer is no. The reason is the Israeli Lobby controls the U.S. Congress.

The Lobby first of all shapes public discourse in the U.S. media. They help sympathetic journalists get jobs, and make sure Israel is portrayed favorably. The mainstream media is biased in favor of Israel. They permit no Arab view, or open discussions as to Israel.

The Lobby effectively determines who will mount successful campaigns for Congress, by funneling money to their campaigns through a network of 75 organizations, and no less than 51 pro-Israeli Political Action Committees (PACs). PAC money is essential, since elections are expensive. Money rolls in to those with the pro-Israel label. Candidates must state an unconditional support for Israel to receive funds. They receive in-depth briefings on Israel, are told what words to use, and what opinions to give.

The Lobby punishes politicians who do not support their agenda. No aspiring candidate publically criticizes Israel. Democrats and Republicans alike fear the Lobby. Congress does what they want, as they keep track of voting. Office holders who do not agree are defeated. Those who wish to reduce Israeli aid are called anti-Israel. Jimmy Carter, who did more for Israeli than any other President, said it is political suicide to even mildly criticize Israel. Carter’s book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, critical of Israel, received full page attacks. It happened to Carter; no one is safe.

The Lobby influences who receives appointed jobs. People critical of Israel do not get foreign policy positions. They make sure Israel is not attacked on Capitol Hill. No critic of Israel is ever heard in Committee. Arab viewpoints are banned.

The Lobby tries to convince Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are the same. They claim their fight against terrorism is our fight. They want Israel to be treated like a 51st state. They force Congress to pass resolutions favorable to Israel. One said: “the U.S. and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism.” It passed in the House 352-21 and the Senate 94-2. When votes are taken to reaffirm support for Israel, almost all members of Congress vote as the Lobby directs.

The Lobby sees to it Israel receives billions in economic aid annually, even though they are not poor. They have been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976. They receive lump sum transfers, and do not have to account for how they spend it. Israeli bonds receive favorable treatment under U.S. law.

The Lobby maintains Israel’s dominant military power in the Mideast. The U.S. 6th Fleet is used for the benefit of Israel. Israel receives access to U.S. reconnaissance and intelligence. They receive tanks, planes, and other military hardware. The Lobby favors a hawkish unilateral exercise of U.S. power. They want to maintain a U.S. presence in the Mideast, in places like Iraq. They want large numbers of U.S.  troops permanently stationed there.

The Lobby controls the U.S. veto power in the United Nations. Between 1972 and 2006, the U.S. vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel.

The Lobby does not want an independent Palestinian state, as they prefer occupation to peace. Anyone favoring a Palestinian state is denounced for betraying Israel. Israel indefinitely removed the idea of a Palestinian state from their agenda.

But change is possible: 1) Those who understand the history of Palestine must educate Americans; 2) The U.S. must establish public financing of federal elections to remove money from the system; 3) The U.S. must deal with the Palestinian issue, because terrorism is related to American support for Israel; 4) Israel must be treated like any other country; 5) If they refuse to settle the Palestinian issue, U.S. economic and military aid must be cut; 6) Israel must dismantle their settlements, end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, and create a Palestinian state.

09/21/2011

Palestine: Queen Noor’s Jordanian View

Queen Noor, born in the U.S. in 1951 and educated at Princeton, married the late King Hussein of Jordan in 1977, at age 26, and after his death, she commented on Palestine in her book, Queen Noor, Leap of Faith, Memoirs of an Unexpected Life (2003).

The Queen noted Palestinians have lived in Palestine for thousands of years. When Britain seized Palestine in WWI, Sir Arthur Balfour promised to create a home there for the Jews of Europe. Although Balfour stated: “nothing shall be done that may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities of Palestine,” the late King Hussein of Jordan called the Balfour Declaration (1917), “the root cause of all of the bitterness and frustration in our Arab world today.”

After WWII, the West alone determined the fate of Palestine, since much of the world was under colonial rule. UN Res. 181 (1947) partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas, triggering a civil war, because the Jews received 55% of the land, even though they had just 33% of the population. After Israel declared independence in 1948, their forces went house to house to drive the Palestinians out. Roughly 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly uprooted, as Israel took 78% of the land originally assigned to the Arabs. Palestinians fled to Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Homeless Palestinians lived in caves and makeshift tents, during the winter of 1948-49.

As the Israeli Air Force launched another Arab-Israeli War with a surprise attack against the Arab states in 1967, Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied. Israel solidified their control of all of Palestine, as another 400,000 Palestinians became refugees. UN Res. 242 criticized Israel saying no land can be acquired by aggression, and ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Israel responded by naively suggesting the Palestinians be absorbed by Arab states.

Israel then destroyed Palestinian villages in the Jordan River Valley and built their own settlements, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and international law. By 1991, 100,000 Jews had settled in the occupied territories and 127,000 in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu lifted a ban on Jewish settlements in the 1990s, approved of more homes in the Jordan Valley, and stopped withdrawing troops from Hebron, where 130,000 Palestinians lived. He created a ring of settlements around Arab East Jerusalem, and precipitated another crisis by approving thousands of additional housing units on 425 acres of expropriated Palestinian land, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The UN Assembly again found Israel had violated international law.

Although the Palestinians are entitled to a return of the occupied territories and to an independent state, Israel continues to resist. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed back in 1985 already to recognize Israel’s right to exist, if they would only accept Res. 242, which requires a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. For years however, neither Israel nor the U.S. would even negotiate. The two sides did not sit down together until 1991, when the PLO and Israel agreed to some things in Oslo, but failed to address refugees, settlements, security, and borders. They subsequently signed a Wye Memorandum in 1994, but did not resolve issues as to refugees, Jerusalem, and a Palestinian State.

Over the years, Queen Noor called President Carter one of the most knowledgeable and balanced voices on the region’s search for peace, but said the U.S. as a whole has a fundamental lack of understanding of the Middle East, and is unpopular in the Arab world, because of an unflinching support for Israel. Americans are blind, because the U.S. media only broadcasts the Israeli perspective. The Israeli Lobby exerts tremendous power in the U.S., which explains why Congress passes resolutions favorable to Israel. While the U.S. pays lip service to UN resolutions demanding an end to the settlements, they do nothing about it. While almost all UN members routinely vote against Israel, the U.S. is usually one of the only two votes in opposition.

It is time to recognize a Palestinian State. Nothing new is required as the UN could enforce UN Res. 181, which in 1947 partitioned British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

09/20/2011

Palestine: What Pat Buchanan Thinks

Commentator Pat Buchanan’s book Where the Right Went Wrong (2004) includes a section on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, which served as a basis for this article about Palestine.

Buchanan’s book explains that during WWI, British Lord Balfour decreed: “his Majesty’s government looks with favor upon the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.” After the British Army seized Palestine from Turkey in 1917, they received a mandate from the League of Nations to govern it, and remained until militant Jews, in the Stern Gang and Irgun, used terrorist tactics to drive them out in 1948.

After Israeli independence in 1948, and particularly since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, negative feelings about the U.S. rose to new highs in the Islamic world. Americans need to listen to what they say about us so we can learn why they hate us.

Arab and Islamic peoples universally resent our one-sided reflexive support for Israel. We use a double standard when dealing with Israel and Arabs. We give Israel aid, but allow them to defy UN Resolutions, seize Arab land, and deny Palestinian rights. Americans are not hated for who we are; we are hated for what we do. It is not our principles, but rather our policies.

When President Bush took power in 2001, the Neo-Cons, many of whom were Jewish-American with strong emotional ties to Israel, were put in charge of U.S. Middle East Policy. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle saw U.S. and Israeli interests as the same. Since Israel was unable to remove threats to their homeland, they wanted the U.S. to disarm their neighboring states. They wanted America to establish permanent military bases in the Mideast.

The U.S. was attacked on 911, because our Foreign Policy supports Israel and the fundamentalist Likud regime. Buchanan said: the terrorists of 911 came over here, because we were over there. Since Israel and the U.S. could not be confronted directly, terrorism was used, as it is the only weapon they had.

The Palestinian case must be resolved, because as Buchanan said, no amount of force can keep an unwilling population in subjugation indefinitely. Unless we change, we are headed for endless conflict in the Islamic world.

While Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, the problem is America is no longer an honest broker, because we sit with Israel and have a compulsive need to provide their defense. The U.S. has embraced a neo-imperial pro-Israeli foreign policy the Founding Fathers would have seen as a breach of faith.

The U.S. needs to pull back from the Middle East, Buchanan said. We must stop volunteering to fight their wars, since such a foreign policy does not serve our interests. He said America needs a foreign policy made in the United States, and not in Tel-Aviv, or at the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

09/19/2011

Palestinian State: Listen To Jimmy Carter

Since the question of a Palestinian State is heading to the UN this week, now is a good time to review the contents of former President Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine Peace, Not Apartheid, (2006), which is the source of the information in this article.

The Turkish Ottoman Empire controlled Palestine for 402 years, from 1516 through 1918. Only 30,000 Jews lived there as of 1880. In WWI, former British Prime Minister Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration (1917), promising Palestine for the Jews, if Turkey surrendered. Following Turkey’s defeat, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate in 1922 to govern Palestine, a territory that spanned from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. As Jews from Europe moved into Palestine, their numbers grew to 150,000 by 1930, and increased another 608,000 by 1945.

Following WWII, the United Nations partitioned Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish areas in 1947, over Palestinian objection. The Arabs received only 45% of the territory, as the Jews were given 55%. Jerusalem was internationalized. Jewish groups, such as Irgun, then intensified their terrorist acts against the British, forcing them to withdraw from Palestine in 1948.

Once Britain had vacated Palestine, Israel declared independence, triggering an Arab-Israeli War (1948), in which 420 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes. Under a 1949 Armistice, new borders, accepted by the UN, increased Israel to 77% of what was formerly Palestine.

In 1967, Israel started another Arab-Israel War, by launching pre-emptive strikes against Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. As Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and other areas, they forced even more Palestinians from their homes. UN Res. 242 (1967) labeled Israel’s taking of land by force a violation of international law, and ordered a withdrawal from the occupied territories. UN Res. 465 later instructed Israel to dismantle all settlements erected in the occupied areas, since 1967. When the right-wing Likud Party came to power in Israel in 1980, the construction of settlements on Arab lands simply escalated.

Although Israel finally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, to this day, they tightly control it, by denying any access by land, sea, or air.

Israel also built a Wall through the West Bank which surrounds Bethlehem and other Palestinians cities, and separates Arabs from each other. The demolition of Palestinian homes in the process violated international law, as the 4th Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from deporting civilians. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 the Wall was illegal, and ordered Israel to remove it, but Israel ignored the judges, and instead declared the Wall in 2006 to be the new Israeli-West Bank border.

The U.S. must resolve the Palestinian question, since it is a major source of anti-Americanism. Although official U.S. policy labels Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal, Israel’s friends in the media keep Americans unaware of the situation. Few Americans know that the U.S. stands alone in supporting Israel, and that the U.S. is widely condemned for supplying weapons. Carter correctly said the U.S. has squandered international prestige and goodwill, and intensified global anti-American terrorism, by unofficially condoning Israeli confiscation of Palestinian territories.

The U.S. has various forms of leverage over Israel to make them compromise. The U.S.: 1) supplies their weapons; 2) allows Israel to control economic aid to Palestine; and 3) has used the UN veto over 40 times to block resolutions critical of Israel.

Israel argues the Palestinians refuse to recognize their right to exist, but the truth is Arab states acknowledge a permanent Israel, and most Palestinians accept the reality they will never be erased from the map. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said in 1988 they would accept UN Resolutions recognizing Israel within the pre-1967 borders, and they again in a 1993 letter unequivocally recognized that Israel had a right to exist.

Israel must now comply with international law, stop colonizing Palestine, dismantle settlements, and recognize a Palestinian state. Although Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu promised never to exchange land for peace, Israel’s borders must return to those used from 1949 through 1967, and the Jewish state must once share the City of Jerusalem with the Palestinians.

09/17/2011

Cable TV Failed To Show Football Game

One would think Charter Communications, the Cable TV monopoly in Madison, would have carried the football game on Sat. Sep. 17 between the 7th ranked University of Wisconsin Badgers and Northern Illinois, but the game was not on any of the 50 Basic Service stations, the 56 on Expanded Service, or any of the 54 on Digital View Plus, even though we subscribers give Charter plenty of money each month to provide good service.

So what was on Cable at 2:30 p.m. instead? Their lineup included seven football games, including none we wanted to watch: 1) Versus carried Texas Tech and New Mexico; 2) Fox showed Colorado St. v Colorado; 3) ESPN went with Texas and UCLA; 4) CBS broadcast Tennessee v Florida; 5) NBC had Notre Dame and Michigan St.; 6) ABC announced Nebraska and Washington; and 7) the Big Ten Network chose Minnesota and Miami of Ohio. If I had purchased cable’s Sports View package, and spent even more money, Northwestern v Army was on CBS Sport Network, and Virginia v North Carolina was on ESPNU.

Why does Cable TV do this? When will they ever learn that our interest in a local football team, does not translate into a general desire to watch whatever game they decide to give us. Like the vast majority in Wisconsin, I turned the TV off, and had to watch the Badger game on my laptop through an online stream of ESPN-3. When will advertisers learn the vast majority of people watching most games, are just fans of the two teams on the field.

Although the cable monopoly promotes itself as a wonderful carrier by advertising over 100 stations to choose from, the number of channels makes no difference, if they show only filler programming no one wants to watch. Cable TV could be so much better if the people of Wisconsin huddled up, went on offense, put Cable on defense, and pressured them to change their lineup. We should be able to stop them from calling all the plays. We should be able to move the ball in the direction we want it to go, by collectively forcing them to show us the games we want to watch.